Robert Dubler SCCONTACT DETAILS
Phone: (+61)(02) 9223 8504
Fax: (+61)(02) 9221 7183
Email Robert DublerContact the ClerkDownload CV
Silk: Appointed Senior Counsel in October 2004
Barrister: February 1990
Solicitor: July 1986
Degrees and accreditations
LLB (1st Class Hons) University of Sydney, 1986. Awarded prizes for study in equity, succession, constitutional law (the Pitt Corbett prize) and industrial and employment law (Sir Alexander Beattie prize)
B Ec (1st Class Hons), University of Sydney, 1986. Awarded University Medal and prizes for study in government economics and industrial relations
LL.M (1st Class Hons) University of Cambridge, 1994. Awarded Churchill Scholar prize and Commonwealth Trust Scholarship (major areas of study included intellectual property, international commercial law and arbitration, international public law, and international human rights law).
Ph D (University of Sydney, 2008)
LEADR Accredited Mediator (2012)
Senior Member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (2017)
Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney University
Robert practices in a wide range of commercial and related areas including:
- Corporations law
- Class actions
- Property law
- Professional negligence
- Banking law
- Administrative law
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (including mediation and arbitration)
After graduating with First Class Honours and the University Medal from the University of Sydney, Robert commenced work as a solicitor with Blake Dawson Waldron. He worked in the areas of intellectual property and commercial litigation, whilst lecturing part time at the University of Sydney.
In 1990, after three years as a solicitor, including as a Senior Associate, Robert was called to the Bar. Robert read with James Allsop (now Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia) and Peter Jacobson (former Justice of the Federal Court). Robert maintains a wide practice in commercial law and related areas such as equity, class actions, corporations law and real property law.
Robert took time off from his practice at the bar in 1993 to take up a Commonwealth and Churchill Scholarship to complete a LL.M in Cambridge University where Robert graduated with First Class Honours. His subjects were international commercial arbitration, intellectual property and international human rights law. Robert resumed practice in 1994.
Robert was appointed Senior Counsel in 2004 and completed a PhD in law (International criminal Law – crimes against humanity) at the University of Sydney in 2008 which he undertook part-time whilst at the Sydney Bar. Robert continues to practice in a wide range of commercial and related areas, including an extensive appellate practice, where he has appeared in the High Court, the NSW Court of Appeal, and the Full Court of the Federal Court – see list of recent cases. High Court cases include:
- Tambree v the Travel Compensation Fund (Trade Practices);
- Perpetual v Heperu (restitution, cheque law – matter settled before judgment);
- Macquarie International Health Clinic Pty Ltd v Sydney South West Area Health Service (good faith in commercial leases);
- Zhang v Zemin & Ors (international law);
- Dimitrov v the Supreme Court of Victoria(class action);
Recent appeals in the NSW Court of Appeal and the Full Court of the Federal Court include:
- Donnellan v Woodland  NSWCA 433 (Advocate’s Immunity);
- Li v Zhou  NSWCA 176 (international law);
- Russell Gould Pty Ltd v Ramangkura  NSWCA 310 (company law, agency)
- Barnes v Forty Two International Pty Limited  FCAFC 152 (Trade Practices);
- Austral Masonry (NSW) Pty Ltd v Cementech Pty Limited  FCAFC 72 (Intellectual Property);
- Jingalong Pty Limited v Todd  NSWCA 7 (contract);
- Macquarie International Health Clinic Pty Ltd v Sydney South West Area Health Service  NSWCA 323 (good faith in commercial leases);
- Pavlovic v Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd (No 2)  NSWCA 31(Intellectual Property);
At the trial level, Robert has appeared in numerous lengthy and complex commercial cases. Recent cases include:
- Dimitrov v the Supreme Court of Victoria(2017-2019), a class action following the collapse of the great southern vineyard investment scheme;
- acting for the plaintiff in Australian Retirement Group v Commonwealth Bank (2017-2018), a class action of borrowers arising from the Commonwealth Bank’s acquisition of Bankwest;
- Sherwood v CBA (2013-2015)(acting as lead counsel), a class action against the Commonwealth Bank in respect of the collapse of the financial adviser Storm which occupied many months of hearings;
- shareholder class actions in respect of the companies: Ion, Compass and Babcock and Brown;
- Forty Two International v Barnes  FCA 85 a lengthy Federal Court commercial and trade practices case.
One of Robert’s major commercial cases includes a long-running Supreme Court proceedings concerning the unlawful termination of a 103 year lease to build a private hospital and car park adjacent to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (Macquarie International Health Clinic Pty Ltd v Sydney Local Health District). The initial proceedings were the subject of appeals to the New South Wales Court of Appeal and the High Court. The subsequent inquiry as to damages and related proceedings in the Supreme Court were conducted over more than 100 hearing days from 2015 to 2019.
In 2016, following a surfing accident, Robert sustained a high spinal cord injury which has confined Robert to a wheelchair. Robert returned to practice in 2017 where he has:
- conducted hearings including in the Supreme Court of New South Wales (Macquarie International Health Clinic Pty Ltd v Sydney Local Health District) and the High Court (Dimitrov v the Supreme Court of Victoria) – a class action following the collapse of the great southern vineyard investment scheme;
- mediations; as well as
- sitting on the New South Wales Civil And Administrative Tribunal as a Senior Member.
Sitting on the Appeal Panel of the Tribunal, Robert has heard numerous cases in areas such as building claims, commercial and consumer claims, anti-discrimination, administrative and occupational appeals. A recent example includes the claim of Racial Vilification against Channel Nine: Ekeramawi v Nine Network Australia Pty Limited  NSWCATAD 29.
Robert has concluded writing a major work in the field of international criminal law, “Crimes Against Humanity In The 21st Century” published by Brill/Nijhoff, in 2018.
In Crimes Against Humanity in the 21st Century, Dr Robert Dubler SC and Matthew Kalyk provide a comprehensive analysis of crimes against humanity in international criminal law. The text tracks the crime from its conceptual origins in antiquity, to its emergence in customary international law at Nuremberg, to the establishment of the ‘modern definition’ at the Hague with the ICTY, ICTR and ICC, and finally to recent state practice and jurisprudence. The text sets out conclusions about the legal elements of the crime and contends that the raison d’être of the crime is located not in the inhumanity of its authors’ actions but in the extent to which its authors threaten international peace and security so as to justify international intervention. See following link for further information: https://brill.com/view/title/35007
Robert is a LEADR accredited mediator. He has also acted as a commercial Arbitrator. Robert acted as part of the Board of Arbitrators in the long running (over 12 months) Sea Containers dispute over a series of ship building contracts following the removal of the previous board (see Ict Pty Ltd v Sea Containers Ltd  NSWSC 77). The Board's award was upheld following challenge in the courts.
Robert’s skills as a barrister enable him to quickly identify the key issues in dispute and appreciate the positions of each party. His extensive experience in a broad variety of matters provides valuable assistance towards helping parties resolve their disputes fairly and efficiently.
As a member of 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers, Robert is also able to provide mediation facilities in the Floor's specialised mediation rooms in Selborne Chambers on Phillip Street.
Robert maintains a keen interest in anti-discrimination law, international human rights law and international criminal law. He has appeared pro-bono in several cases in these areas such as the Aboriginal Stolen Generation constitutional law case in the High Court, refugee cases, anti-discrimination law hearings, the refugee status of the East Timorese living in Australia, and as Counsel for the relatives of Mr Brian Peters, one of the 'Balibo five' of Australian journalists killed in East Timor in 1975, at his coronial inquest before the New South Wales Deputy Coroner. He assisted in preparing submissions and a brief to the Australian Federal Police in respect of the persons suspected of killing the Australian journalists.
Robert is a member of the International Commission of Jurists. Robert has also conducted observer missions overseas on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists including in 2009 to Sri Lanka in respect of the trial of senior journalist Mr Tissanaiyagam who was charged with terrorist related offences over articles he wrote.
He is chairman of the Sri Lankan Evidence Project which is assembling evidence of war crimes which has formed the subject of a brief to the Australian Federal Police.
Robert has also acted for victims of torture in China before the Committee Against Torture in Geneva and in the New South Wales Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. He acted for one such plaintiff before the High Court of Australia.